Brian Bahr/2013 Getty Images file photoVernon Davis (85) and the 49ers seemed destined to meet the NFC West rival Seahawks in the playoffs at some point.

Brian Bahr/2013 Getty Images file photoVernon Davis (85) and the 49ers seemed destined to meet the NFC West rival Seahawks in the playoffs at some point.

Innocent players are real losers in Braun suspension

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun became the latest high-profile baseball player to go down swinging when he was suspended for the rest of the season Monday by Major League Baseball for violating the league's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The suspension wasn't shocking, surprising or even unexpected. Rumors of the impending downfall of Braun, and many others, for their involvement with the Biogenesis clinic in Florida have been swirling for months.

It was simply the latest #SMH moment involving drugs in sports.

Braun put on quite a show in February 2012 after winning an appeal to overturn a 50-game ban for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He was forceful, confident and adamant in explaining his innocence.

“I would bet my life this substance never entered my body,” Braun said at the time. “The truth is always relevant and the truth prevailed.”

Turns out he was right. The truth just happened to surface a year and a half after he made those comments.

“I realize now that I have made some mistakes,” Braun said in a (under) statement Monday after his suspension was announced.

You think? Braun has plenty of apologies to dole out. How about the FedEx collector whom Braun trashed in 2012 for mishandling his urine sample? Or the teammates and coaches who had Braun's back? Or Matt Kemp, who was neck and neck with Braun in the 2011 MVP race, which Braun eventually won?

It's the latest lesson that athletes are cheaters and you can't trust anything they say. Doesn't matter the sport — baseball, track, football or cycling — athletes will look to get an edge. It's a harsh truth, but it's a 2013 reality.

From Rafael Palmeiro to Lance Armstrong to Braun, athletes have made a living out of duping the public. Each of those three offered convincing, believable cases. How could individuals so vehemently profess their innocence if it weren't true? Pretty easily, it turns out.

Braun will come back and play again next year. Sure, he will be blasted on Twitter and everywhere else for a few days, but Braun will earn another paycheck.

The loser in this whole situation is the innocent players.

While Braun issued his written statement Monday, the rest of baseball was left to face questions about his wrongdoing.

The actions of some bring the cloud of suspicion upon all.

It's the reason Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis' incredible, breakout season is being looked at with raised eyebrows.

Suspension after suspension have trained fans and the media alike to see a fire before there's even smoke. If it's too good to be true, it must be, right?

Braun could just be the tip of the iceberg, too, as reports have indicated suspensions for Alex Rodriguez and possibly a dozen other players are in the pipeline. It's BALCO and the Mitchell Report all over again.

While other sports have their own issues with PEDs, it's baseball that gets most of the exposure. It's the sport where stats are most sacred.

Moving forward, it is up to baseball and the players' association to stiffen penalties for drug cheats to ensure an even playing field. Until that happens, everyone's under suspicion — innocent or guilty.

Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at dkruse@sfexaminer.com and followed on Twitter @dylan_kruse.

Dylan KruseMajor League Baseballperformance enhancing drugsRyan Braun

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